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The Mid-Atlantic region’s poultry growers may have started to receive settlement forms recently for broiler grower class action lawsuit settlement. Growers might be surprised to receive this form in the mail and may have questions on what the class action was about. If you have questions about the settlement process, please check out the website for the litigation here, which includes many important deadlines for broiler growers. Answers to many of the important questions growers may have are currently unknown; how much each individual grower will receive, whether additional integrators will settle, and what amount of attorneys’ fees will need to be paid are among those questions.
Originally filed in 2017 in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the lawsuit alleges that a number of integrators colluded in the broiler market. According to the court filings, the plaintiffs alleged that the integrators agreed not to poach growers. In addition to the no-poaching agreement, the integrators also allegedly used Agri Stats to share detailed data about their operations. Although this data shared through Agri Stats is anonymous, it is highly detailed, making it possible for companies to distinguish various operations. This data is also non-public -- private data only available to the integrators, according to the court filings. By sharing this detailed data with Agri Stats, the integrators were able to collude to lower grower compensation.
The plaintiffs brought these claims of collusion, antitrust, and unfair competition practices under the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Packers and Stockyards Act. Growers for other integrators may also be receiving settlement agreement forms. This is because the lawsuit involves a large number of integrators, including Koch Poultry, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Tysons, and Perdue, and a number of co-conspirators, including Agri Stats, Foster Farms, Mountaire Farms, Wayne Farms, George’s, Inc., Peco Foods, Inc., House of Raeford Farms, Simmons Foods, Keystone Foods, Fieldale Farms Corp., O.K. Industries, Case Foods, Marshall Durbin Companies, Amick Farms, Inc., Mar-Jac Poultry, Inc., Harrison Poultry, Inc., and Claxton Poultry Farms. At this time, Koch Poultry, Tysons, and Perdue have settled
Growers for Koch will receive settlement forms as potential class members impacted by the lower grower compensation amount due to the alleged collusion. Growers getting settlement forms will need to pay attention to certain dates. The first date is Sept. 23, 2022, for postmarking requests to be excluded from the settlement. Remember that you always have the right to be excluded from a settlement. When you do this, you often have the right to sue for similar claims on your own or do nothing, but you must opt out by the September 23 date. Second, all claims forms must be submitted online or postmarked by February 6, 2023. Growers for Tyson and Perdue had those deadlines pass a while ago and will begin to receive checks later this year. Please check the website at https://www.broilergrowersantitrustsettlement.com/ for the important dates to determine if a grower wants to be part of the settlement or notices mistakes on the settlement form.